Dear Love is LouderDL,
I’m so glad that you wrote about everything that you’re feeling and going through because it helps me get to know you better. From your letter, I can see that you are truly an amazing person, someone who had the strength and courage to tell your parents that you’re lesbian. It’s very sad that they aren’t able to appreciate the incredible person that you are, someone who is comfortable and confident with herself to be open with who she is. It’s also very sad and hurtful that the people in your school treat you sad badly and that though you’ve talked with counselors about everything, you haven’t gotten the help that you needed. You show how smart you are in reaching out for help and support when you’re in such an emotionally hard place. I’m so glad that despite how you’re feeling, you haven’t given up on you that you’re fighting for you because you’re definitely worth fighting for and that you found The Trevor Project and wrote to Ask Trevor for help and support.
Please know that we at The Trevor Project care about you very much, are very concerned that lately you’ve been contemplating suicide. Please know that if you were no longer here, the world would be a much, much emptier place and that the people in your life, including your English teacher, would truly miss you. It’s very important for your safety that you immediately tell a trusted adult, such as a relative, friend’s parent, therapist, teacher, school counselor or doctor about your thoughts of suicide in order to keep you safe and to get you the support and help that you need. It’s good that you know that suicide is not the way to go but if you ever feel you’re going to act on those thoughts of suicide, immediately call emergency services or get to your nearest hospital emergency room. When you’re depressed, it can be very painful to feel, can make you isolate from your friends and family, cause you to be tired all the time and take away your motivation to do things, cause you to feel worthless, make you not enjoy the things you usually like to do, make you sleep much less or much more than usual, cause you to eat much less or more than usual and make you see everything in your life in a negative way. Sometimes the depression can get so bad it can make a person think of ending their life. People sometimes think about ending their life when they’re feeling very depressed, feel hopeless that things will get better and helpless to make things better in their life. On www.us.reachout.com you’ll find facts about depression by clicking on “struggles with feelings.” It’s important to know that there is treatment for depression and ways to deal with thoughts of suicide including therapy and/or medication. It can help to talk with a mental health professional, such as a social worker, psychologist or psychiatrist about what you’re feeling and going through including your thoughts of wanting to kill yourself as well as your feelings of depression, your thoughts of suicide, your feelings about being gay and the your family difficulties in order to help you to feel better and to help you see choices and options you may not be aware that you have. You could ask a trusted adult, such as your Japanese teacher, for help in finding someone to talk and work with. On www.helpguide.org/mental/depression_teen_teenagers.htm and http://www.webmd.com/depression/guide/teen-depression you can learn more about depression and its treatment. On http://mentalhealth.samhsa.gov/databases/ you can search for mental health services in your area.You could also contact the Association of Gay and Lesbian Psychiatrists by calling 215-222-2800 or by visiting their website at www.aglp.org for help in finding someone in your area for you to talk and work with.
It’s also concerning that since your parents told you to change, you’ve been in cutting. It might help to know that some people cut as a way of dealing with or managing difficult, painful, overwhelming emotions or stress. For you, cutting may be a way of escaping your feelings of depression and emotional pain because of the things you’re going through. For some, cutting relieves stress or tension or they find that the physical pain of cutting is a distraction from the emotional pain. Some people are angry at someone in their life and take the anger out on themselves by cutting. Others feel that the cutting gives them a feeling of control when things in the life or their emotions feel out of control. Still others feel numb or “dead inside” and cutting helps them to feel alive. With the way your parents and the people at school have been treating you, you may be experiencing some or all of these things. It’s important for you to know that cutting may help you to feel better briefly but the longer it goes on, the more dangerous it can become as it can cause permanent scars, infections and serious, and sometimes life threatening medical problems especially if you cut a major blood vessel, which you describe happened with you. It can also cause you to feel shame, guilt, depressed and out of control. If you feel like cutting, there are lots of ways to help yourself feel better without putting yourself at risk. Think about how you feel before and after you cut yourself. If cutting helps to release anger, you might try getting the anger out in another way like hitting a pillow, stomping around in heavy shoes, ripping up an old newspaper or flattening aluminum cans. If cutting helps you when you’re sad, do things that help you feel taken care of and comforted. That may be listening to certain songs, calling a friend or eating a favorite food. If the cutting helps you to feel less numb, do something that creates a sharp physical feeling like putting your hand briefly in ice water or stamp your feet on the ground.. There are websites available including www.safe-alternatives.com and http://www.helpguide.org/mental/self_injury.htm that can help you learn about cutting as well as additional things you can do when you have the urge to cut. It would be important for your safety to let a trusted adult know about the cutting, In addition, it would be helpful and important to work with a mental health professional to find healthier ways to deal with the difficulties in your life. You could ask a trusted adult for help in finding a mental health provider to work with.
Please know that you have the right to feel safe in your school and that no one ever has the right to bully or abuse you in any way. As far as how to deal with the bullying in your school, you could start by talking with an adult at school such as a the principal, school counselor or school administrator as it is their job to make sure you and others are not being harassed or bullied by students, teachers or anyone and that you feel safe in school, so if you feel comfortable, please bring it to their attention immediately. There are a number of organizations that work specifically in schools to address homophobia and transphobia against LGBT students. One such organization is the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) which works to ensure safe schools for ALL students. On their website at www.glsen.org click on “what we do” where you can find programs which may help people in your school become more understanding and supportive of you. One program is called “A Day of Silence” which brings attention to anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment in schools. Each year, the event has grown, now with hundreds of thousands of students coming together to encourage schools and classmates to address the problem of anti-LGBT behavior. Another program is the No Name-Calling Week which is a week of educational activities aimed at ending name-calling of all kinds and providing schools with the tools and inspiration to foster a dialogue about ways to eliminate bullying in their communities. On GLSEN’s website, there are also links to articles and blogs where you can learn how students at other schools are educating each other on the subject of intolerance. GLSEN also has information on how to start a GSA (Gay-Straight Alliance) which is a student club that work to improve school climate for all students, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. It’s a place where students can come together, offer support to one another and help make your school a more accepting place. On http://www.gsanetwork.org/resources/start.html you can get information on how to start a GSA. You can call the GLSEN office in New York at 212-727-0135 as they may be able to help you or point you towards someone who can help you. Another resource that can be of help is The Trevor Project’s Lifeguard workshop program which contains the film “Trevor” to be used with the workshop guide to open up discussions with ALL students about how language and behavior can affect the way an individual feels about themselves. You can find these resources by going to The Trevor Project home page and clicking on “read more” under “parents and educators” or by calling The Trevor Project offices at 310-271-8845. If there is a school counselor or administrator at your school with whom you feel comfortable, you could talk with them about using these programs to help people become more understanding and accepting of you and other LGBT people.
As you go through this difficult time, it can be helpful and would be important to get the support you need. You could reach out to talk with your English teacher who’s been so supportive of you. You could join TrevorSpace at www.trevorspace.org the Trevor Project’s safe, online social networking site for LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning) young people ages 13 to 24 their friends and straight allies. It’s a great supportive community, where you can connect and chat with young people all over, get support and learn what’s helped others dealing with similar issues.
Please know that despite your family turning against you and telling you that you have to change, being lesbian is absolutely natural and normal. You are wonderful just the way you are and in no need of change. In addition, it is considered to be abusive to throw a child who’s under 18 years old out of the house. Please know that no one, including your family, EVER has the right to abuse you. When someone is being abused, it can make them feel very bad about themselves because they may think they’re causing or deserve the abuse but no matter what your family tells you, it’s not your fault that you are being treated this way. You deserve and have the right to be protected and safe. If your parents due throw you out of the house, it would be important to have a safety plan, meaning a place where you could stay such as with a trusted friend or relative. You could contact the National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453) for help.
Sometimes family members like your parents, who have difficulty with a loved one’s sexual orientation due to religious or other reasons can, with help, move to a more supportive place. Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) is a great organization, made up mostly of parents, which supports LGBTQ people and works to help parents and others to become more supportive and accepting of their loved one’s sexual orientation. On their website at www.pflag.org click on “Get Support” then click on “For Family & Friends” where you’ll find the pamphlets “Our Daughters and Sons: Questions and Answers for Parents of Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual People” and “Frequently Asked Questions about GLBT People,” which, if you’re comfortable, you can share with your parents to help them become more understanding and accepting of you. PFLAG also runs support groups where parents and others can discuss questions and concerns they have about a loved one’s sexual orientation and where LGBTQ people can discuss issues they’re having with people in their life. You can learn more about the PFLAG Bakersfield chapter by visiting their website at http://community.pflag.org/Page.aspx?&pid=224&srcid=229&chid=49, calling them at 661-632-2510 or emailing them at firstname.lastname@example.org. If your parents won’t attend, you could still contact them to get support and learn ways to help them become more understanding of you. Other resources you might share with her are the books “Now That You Know-A Parent’s Guide to Understanding Their Gay and Lesbian Children” which addresses many issues and questions that arise for parents of gay and lesbian children and “Straight Parents, Gay Children: Keeping Families Together.” The Institute for Welcoming Resources works to create resources that supports the unconditional welcome of people of all sexual orientations and gender identities and their families in the religious institution home of their choice. On their website at welcomingresources.org/ you can find information that may help your family, in the face of their religious beliefs, to become more understanding of you. There are no guarantees but they may help.
Please continue to reach out for help and support and to fight for you because you’re definitely worth fighting for. Remember that you can always call the Trevor Lifeline 24 hours, 7 days a week. Our counselors answer many calls from young people who are experiencing depression and are thinking about suicide and are searching for help to work on ways to help themselves feel better. Please know that you don’t have to go through this alone as we’re always here for you at The Trevor Project.